|Pilot Lt. Cdr Shinya Ozaki (WIA, died)
landed June 19, 1944
Built by Mitsubishi estimated date of assembly March 1944 as A6M5a Model 52ko Zero Manufacture Number 4685 painted with green upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and assigned to 343 Kōkūtai with tail code 43-188 painted in yellow.
This Zero was
initially assigned to Atsugi Airfield in Japan. During early June 1944 flown to Tinian Island. Afterwards operated from Agana Airfield on Guam Island.
On June 19, 1944 took off from Agana Airfield on Guam on the first day of the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" piloted by Lt. Cdr Shinya Ozaki. A pair of Zeros, including this aircraft strafed a U. S. Navy (USN) SOC Seagull
attempting to rescue a downed American
aviator from the sea.
Afterwards, intercepted by F6F Hellcat pilot Lt. Henry C. Clem and damaged. Next, spotted by an F4U-2 Corsair night fighter piloted by Lt.Cdr. R. E. Harmer from
VF(N)-101 who chased Ozaki and further damaged it. Streaming smoke, the Zero managed to reach Guam and force landed just off off Agana Airfield. Wounded, Lt. Cdr Shinya Ozaki later died of his wounds.
This Zero landed in a swamp near Agana Airfield and was not discovered during the American occupation of Guam. In March 1962, this aircraft was located by a worker from the Government of Guam. Afterwards, rediscovered
and recovered by the American military. The Zero was intact with only the tail rudder fabric missing. The original green paint and Hinomaru markings were clearly visible.
During January 1964 shipped to Japan for static restoration. Afterwards, the Zero was painted in the original wartime markings including tail code 43-188. Afterwards, displayed at Hamamatsu-Minami
AFB suspended from the ceiling of the hangar.
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 53 (lower)
Thanks to Roy
Wiggs for additional information.
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September 9, 2020